By Leo Rivers
When I open my eyes in the morning and sit up in bed I do The 7 line prayer - and after swinging my legs off the side of the bed I do a brief Maitreya Puja sitting there. This locates me in my spiritual universe or gives me a "tune up" before startling the Day. It is a Touching Base before the day-long slide home...
When I open my eyes in the morning and sit up in bed I do The 7 line prayer 1.) because it puts me in mind of Padmasambhava, the Buddhist yogi who helped bring Buddhism to Tibet in the late 700s. Waking up to a new day is like arriving to bring Buddhism to the world from a previous incarnation, a new birth. Guru Rinpoche was of the Lotus family, and the miracle story of his birth described his birth as taking place within the opening the Lotus on a beautiful lake of luminous clarity. Imagine you are Padmasambhava waking up within the opening petals of that Lotus. The Lotus family is sacred to the Buddha Amitabha. And it is to the Buddha of the West we now turn.
In the Buddhist pure land in the West, billions of billions of light years away out past the western horizon of Earth, the Buddha Amitabha sits on his throne teaching Dharma - and the sounds of his voice quicken the lotuses srpread all over his pure land. In time, they open one by one,and within that lotus, a bodhisattva who had died before reaching Buddhahood in a previous life finally here achieves awakening, blossoms into Buddhahood on the petals of a lotus opening in the radiance of the pure presence of the Buddha Amitabha.
So too, here on our world, on the North West border of a great central country, in the middle of a lake, the Lotus petals open to reveal a child born from the nature of mind within a bodhisattva’s Buddha awakening.
He is encircled by many sky dancers. These are the famous ‘sky-going’ ladies, the dakinis! These dakinis are self-liberated arising phenomena seen with the lotus eyes of wisdom gone beyond. This sky is full of arising phenomena all around him, but Padmasambhava has Buddha wisdom and instantly upon arising their empty nature reveals themselves as being like bubbles, like rainbows, like mirages or dreams. The venom of the delusion of substance has been drained from them by his wisdom understanding of emptiness. So his awakening makes Our World, this ordinary mirage of delusion and self-centeredness universe, over into a pure land by the simple power of his Gaze. Fo him, the arising of impure phenomena self-liberate as he sees withon each the lesson they contain - a lesson that leadsdirectly back to their own empty nature.
So all of phenomena are his dakinis!
But when there are difficulties throughout the day and you have to wrestle within your awareness to tame arising phenomena - you take recourse to the medicines available from the Buddha Dharma to do so.
By taming your own mind, these troublesome phenomenon have become the substance of the medicine of the Dharma itself.
In this way Obstacles and Obstructors are said to “convert to Buddhism” and take an oath to Padmasambhava to remain the protectors of the pure land of the Buddhas. A meditator has to get past them to get into the pure land where the Buddhas are teaching Dharma - even as we speak. And speaking of the Pure Land, the closest Heaven is said to be Tushita.
The Buddha in the closest heaven, Tushita, teaching Dharma today, is Maitreya Buddha. I think of him as the Buddha of the Dawn because he awaits in the Tushita heaven for the day the world is ripened in self recognition of the uselessness of the ways of the world and the futility of taking refuge in the world, a day in which the whole world itself is be ready to turn onto the Bodhisattva path.
Yet he is also the Buddha of Meditators who are on the path following in the footsteps of the Buddha’s own awakening. They too are approaching the dawn of wisdom. So in their prayers, wherever their hearts glance, they can see Maitreya sitting there in a pure-land teaching a continual stream of ever-new Dharma - a good spiritual friend providing Scriptures and personal guidance for their meditation practice.
That is why I like to follow the 7 line prayer with mantra to Maitreya, (I do a brief Maitreya Puja here too) 2.). And the mantra I use is the one that has the same syllable count and meter as the Buddha mantra. 3.) I imagine Siddhārtha Gautama, the Shakyamuni Buddha, sitting on the horizon in the past and like a twin brother I imagine Maitreya sitting on the horizon of the future. They are both smiling at me from before me and behind me on the path.
It is the teachings in the 5 books of the Maitreya as explained by ‘the old schoolteacher and his big brother the Saint’, (Vasubandhu and Asaṅga), that speak for the Buddhist Path as it was envisioned the 4th century in India - scriptures that were composed with meditators in mind and comprise the Scriptures considered to be a “3rd turning of the wheel of Dharma”.
The 3rd turning of the wheel of Dharma, or the path of yoga meditators, is one that inclusively engages both the teachings of the 1st 2 turnings of the wheel of Dharma,
- the 4 Noble truths and the truth of the 12 steps of causes and conditions of the path of the original ascetic mendicants,
- and the emptiness doctrine of the perfection of wisdom with its razor-sharp protector Nagarjuna’s critique of fabricated assertions.
The path of a meditator is one of mindfulness.
That is why the original Buddhist Sangha, (once established in monasteries), taught the Abhidharma, the Higher Wisdom which provided lists of mental factors of which Meditators need to be aware.
Every time you return to mindfulness in your awareness, you do so by identifying some phenomena in your mind as being composed of one or more of those mental factors. Learning the list of 100 factors of mind is like learning the elements of mathematics increment by logical increment. It was a little bit of a chore but once you did so you had a language that you could address the reality all around you with.
When you identify a factor of mind as laziness or anger that arising phenomena loses some of the venom of the appearance of substance which makes it compelling! By becoming mindful of something "as a factor of experience" in the process of identifying it - you go a long way towards taming it. You have disengaged from that factor by “becoming aware of it” as a factor. You have depersonalized it. "put it out there" as an object of meditation.
It is true that this kind of approach became a whole scholastic academic preoccupation in itself. In fact, the Emptiness teaching emerged as a responce to defend out the fact that you can invest too much reality in concepts - and that obsessing with concepts just takes you back to the place you went wrong in the 1st place! Investing Substance in concepts is a root downfall itself. Lable worship creates the name and form upon which we attach our ego-centered graspings.
So the 2nd turning of the wheel of Dharma was really about pointing out the emptiness of all concepts arising in our mind.
One of the concepts you have about all phenomena arising in your mind is that each possess a boundary that divides them from everything else - that boundary is what seals them off into an entity. But all things have no boundaries - and thus are infinite and all such illusory phenomena are part of one fabric of Mirage or a dream from which you can awaken.
The 3rd turning of the wheel skillfully reincorporated these factors of experience by understanding them to be factors that we impose by our confusion of mind. They are not “out there” in the sense that the people who taught the 1st turning of the wheel of Dharma thought they were. They are “in here” where we make the moral and ethical struggle cannot go wrong in our mindfulness heartbeat to heartbeat.
Whereas the 2nd turning of the wheel established emptiness in both conventional delusional reality and pure wisdom nirvana reality, the 2 kinds of reality the Buddha himself defined, the 3rd turning of the wheel interposed an intermediary mindful of expression of wisdom which recognized the workings of the 4 Noble truths and the 12 steps of interdependent co-origination in the delusional reality awareness and thus gradually made a path of purifying one's recognition so the Buddha nature could become manifest.
The Yogacara distinguished the Delusional Mindfulness from the Buddha Mindfulness as did the Emptiness School with their concepts of Relitive and Absolute Truth - but went on to locate a 3rd Mindfulness between them, a Middle-Way of Mind called the ‘Paratantra’. Furthermore, The Yogacara recognized that all 3 of these forms of mindfulness were empty of self nature.
It was the Special Quality of the 3rd turning of the wheel to successfully incorporate the wisdoms of the 1st and the 2nd
turnings of the wheel of Dharma
- and do so in such a way as to provide tools for the moment to moment day-to-day
struggle of a Meditator to remain Mindful.
A Yogacara Meditator is constantly mindful of the fact that they are perfuming the ground, which means planting either the white or black seeds of virtuous or non-virtuous karma. Those seeds will blossom later as the environments of either deepening darkness or increasing light light, increasing towards the dawn.
This is why I use the 7 line prayer to orient myself on awakening each day. This is why I use the mantra of Maitreya, the special Buddha of the 3rd turning of the wheel of Dharma, to set the pattern of my mindfulness one that I hope to hold to all through the day.
I recognize that I have ethical ownership of all the phenomena arising as phenomena in my mind as a landscape full of
events and people.
I am not like a king who rules them.
I am not like a rich arrogant man for whom all of these things are like pieces of property that I could do with as which I
I am like a farmer who has been loaned a piece of land for the extent of his life and it is how I tend to this land that
determines what kind of seeds are planted in fruits of harvest are given up.
I know that empty samsara an empty nirvana go on like a stormy sea and blissful sky forever. I know that I will one day laid down like a bee in the grass, quietly settling like a leaf falling from a branch. And the seeds that I had perfumed the ground with will be seems that arise as scenes of ethical qualities determined by my deeds here and now.
I keep in mind the descriptions of the perfections of wisdom given in the heartfelt advice of Śāntideva in “the Path of the Bodhisattva”. I know full well that any moment could be my last, and that knowing is like a strong friend holding my arm as I go up a steep path helping me walk-in mindfulness.
May all beings be liberated from the oppression of their own delusions, the oppression and conditions of human poverty brought on by people whose delusions make them the oppressors of others. May all beings have all they need in a circle of community which embraces them and is enriched by them. May all lifetimes ripen out of suffering and misery and want into experiences of fulfillment and usefulness to others. May all this world be raised as one bouquet, one Mandala offered up to welcome the day of Maitreya Buddha’s descent to earth like the sweetest of all Spring Dawns.
Homage to Maitreya and Chagdud, my Lama
Friday, December 2, 2011 9:29:02 AM
1.) Excellent introduction to the Seven Line Prayer:
2.) The Maitreya Puja itself is contained in Universal Love: The Yoga Method of Buddha Maitreya
and you can find extensive Teaching on this puja by Lama Yeshe [ http://www.lamayeshe.com/index.php?sect=article&id=526&chid=1070]
3.) I use this mantra, “oṃ mai tri ma hā mai tri mai tri ye svā hā”, in place of the mantra described in the Universal Love: The Yoga Method of Buddha Maitreya, Lama Yeshe, Kindle Locations 4.), [ “ ah maitri sarva siddhi hum” ], because this “Maitreya Mantra” that I prefer has the same format as the Mantra of the Buddha. see: [http://www.visiblemantra.org/maitreya.html]
- Buddha Mantra:
“oṃ mu ni mu ni ma hā mu ni ye svā hā” 5.)
- The Maitreya Mantra I prefer:
“oṃ mai tri ma hā mai tri mai tri ye svā hā”
5.) Visible Mantra Website on the Buddha Mantra: [ http://www.visiblemantra.org/shakyamuni.html ]
wiki on Maitreya [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maitreya ]
wiki on Padmasambhava [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Padmasambhava ]